There has been an increase in steel production and consumption in Latin America for the first two months of 2015, according to the Latin American Steel Association (Alacero).

Regional crude steel production increased 3% while finished steel was up 4% when compared to the same period of 2014.

Apparent steel consumption increased 8% (although imports accounted for 37% of regional consumption) and the regional trade balance ‘keeps on deteriorating’ according to Alacero. The deficit in tonnes deepened by 54% and where production was concerned, the Latin America and the Caribbean region produced 10.8Mt of crude steel, up 3% when compared with the same period last year.

The region produced 9.3Mt of finished steel, up 4% on the previous year, and the largest producer was Brazil with 4.3Mt and a 46% share of regional output. Mexico was in second place with 2.9Mt and a 32% share of regional production.

Chile and Brazil witnessed the greatest increases in finished steel production, sporting respective growth rates of 8% and 7%. Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina saw growth rates fall by 15%, 6% and 5% respectively.

Regional finished steel consumption was up 8% at 11.8Mt and the largest consumption increases in both volume and percentage terms, were recorded in Peru, up 95% at 464kt, followed by Mexico (408kt, up 12%) and Columbia (83kt, up 13%).

Brazil’s rolled steel consumption, however, slumped 181kt and was down 4% while Argentina dropped 11% to 92kt.

Regional finished steel imports of 4.4Mt were up 32% compared with last year’s figure of 3.3Mt. They currently account for 37% of regional consumption and this, claims Alacero, ‘brings about disincentives to the local industry, trade frictions and threatens jobs’.

The region exported 1.3Mt, down 1% on last year, and recorded a trade deficit of 3.1Mt of finished steel. “This imbalance is 54% more profound than that observed in Jan/Feb 2014,” said Alacero, when it stood at 2Mt.

Where finished steel was concerned, every country in the region recorded a trade deficit. Mexico was down 931kt, Peru 720kt, Columbia 433kt and Chile 255kt.

Advanced figures for March 2015 indicate that crude steel production is down 4% at 5.5Mt and that finished steel production was up 3% at 4.9Mt.

Source: Alacero.